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John B.
Farmer

 

Lawrence E. Laubscher, Jr.

 

Ian D. Titley

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John Farmer's Column  

John wears two hats – columnist and lawyer. He writes a monthly column, Leading-Edge Law, for the Richmond Times-Dispatch on breaking legal issues in the e-commerce, intellectual property and high-tech fields. He’s been writing columns since 1998.
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Do Opportunists Actually Cash In When Applying to Register Suddenly Popular Phrases as Trademarks?

Tuesday, March 17th, 2015

It’s as inevitable as the sunrise. Tragedy strikes and a popular phrase is born. Or a sports star explodes on the scene and earns a catchy nickname. Then a bunch of opportunists run to the federal Trademark Office to try to cash in by applying to register that name or phrase as a trademark. For Read the full article…


Avoid Committing Twibel When Tweeting and Retweeting

Monday, February 16th, 2015

When you tweet, do you commit twibel? And if you retweet someone else’s twibel, are you on the hook too? “Twibel” is Internet slang for committing libel on Twitter ˗ writing something factually false about some other person or organization that damages that person’s or organization’s reputation. Engaging in twibel can be costly. Singer and Read the full article…


First Amendment Protection for Offensive Trademarks Could Arise in 2015

Tuesday, January 20th, 2015

2015 could be the year in which courts give greater First Amendment protection for the registration and use of offensive trademarks. The Redskins Trademark Case Last year, the federal Trademark Office decided the trademark registrations owned by the Redskins football team that contain the word “Redskins” should be revoked because, it determined, that name was Read the full article…


Should You Use Fingerprint Unlock on Your New Phone?

Wednesday, December 17th, 2014

Should you activate the fingerprint unlock feature on you new iPhone 6? That might depend on how much you fear the government. Regardless of whether you do so, be aware of your rights regarding whether the police may search your cell phone. Let’s start with a few recent court decisions. In June, the Supreme Court Read the full article…


Is Software Patenting Dead?

Monday, December 1st, 2014

It appears computer software patents died last June. If so, there will be rejoicing by the many businesses plagued by patent trolls. Last June, the U. S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously that you cannot get a valid patent on conducting a business process on a generic computer. In other words, you cannot take a business Read the full article…


Virginia’s Anti-Patent Troll Statute Got the Shad Treatment

Tuesday, October 21st, 2014

Virginia’s new anti-patent troll law got the shad treatment on its way to enactment. When I was in law school in the 80’s, I took a class on legislative drafting taught by a Virginia state senator and a politically connected law professor. That’s where I learned about the “shad treatment.” My teachers explained that the Read the full article…


The Redskins Fight On In Federal Court For Its Trademark Registrations

Tuesday, September 16th, 2014

The Redskins recently suffered a major loss that won’t cause the team to fold but still hurts its prospects. Quarterback Robert Griffin III’s dislocated left ankle? Well, that too, but I’m talking about the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office revoking several of the team’s registrations for its REDSKINS trademark, holding that the trademark is disparaging Read the full article…


Survey: Half of U.S. Trademark Registrations Are at Least Partially Illegitimate

Friday, August 1st, 2014

A recent survey revealed that about half of all federal trademark registrations are at least partially illegitimate. This illegitimacy blocks businesses from being able to obtain trademark registrations they want and discourages businesses from selecting new trademarks they prefer. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”) just released the results of a survey it conducted Read the full article…


Preserve Evidence of First Use of Your Trademark

Friday, August 1st, 2014

With trademarks, older is better. Be prepared to prove your trademark’s age. If you are in business, you probably own one or more trademarks. A product or service name usually is a trademark, and usually a business name is a trademark too. You might get into a dispute with another business over who began using Read the full article…


Be Careful Using People Pictures in Publicity

Thursday, June 19th, 2014

Posted on June 29, 2014 The news is popping with famous people suing over unauthorized use of their likenesses for profit. Former UCLA basketball player Ed O’Bannon is leading a class action lawsuit against the NCAA. He seeks a ruling that college basketball and football players should get a cut of TV revenue. Video game Read the full article…